AUSTIN - State Rep. Aaron Pena has passed legislation that would save volunteer fire departments all across the state of Texas millions of dollars a year in fuel costs.

Pena authored HB 387 at the request of the city of Edinburg, whose volunteer fire department not only serves the city but the larger community in the area. The legislation would exempt volunteer fire departments from paying state fuel taxes.

"Volunteer fire departments provide emergency and life saving services for many communities in South Texas and all across the state," said Pena. "As their budgets are typically tight, the cost of fuel for their emergency vehicles constitutes a significant expense for these departments. Volunteer fire departments will now save 20 cents per gallon of fuel purchased."

HB 387 will provide a tax exemption for gasoline and diesel fuel sold to a volunteer fire department in this state for its exclusive use. It would allow an eligible volunteer fire department that had paid the motor fuel tax on the purchase of gasoline or diesel fuel, to file a claim with the Comptroller's Office for a refund of the tax. The state currently provides an exemption of the state motor fuels and diesel tax to such entities as the federal government and public school districts.

"Many volunteer fire departments that serve small and rural communities struggle with tight budgets," said Representative Peņa. "The impact of the lost tax revenue to the state will be minimal compared to the financial relief experienced by Texas'

volunteer fire departments."

Representative Peņa is the House sponsor of SB 254, the companion bill to HB 387.

The bill having passed to third reading will then be sent to the Governor for his signature.